What position do you hold at Global Citizen Year and why do you like working there?
Esther: As the Program Experience Manager I’m responsible for curriculum development, monitoring and evaluation, parent communications, and US training. I love working at Global Citizen Year because I work with a passionate, committed, purposeful team that believes in our mission.
What I appreciate most about our organization is that we are truly committed to access and diversity. About 80% of our Fellows receive some kind of financial aid and our cohort is diverse (socioeconomically, geographically, racially) in the truest sense.
Did you take a gap year? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Esther: I landed in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, working at a home for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. In high school, I was singularly focused on being a doctor. I volunteered at hospitals, went to science camp at Stanford, and read books on infectious disease. I was interested in South Africa because the HIV/AIDS epidemic was at its height then.
Going to South Africa on my own was challenging, scary, and exhilarating, but mostly, I felt lost. I longed for mentorship, community and meaning. I came home questioning medical school, and more interested in the root cause of inequity in all forms.
My “gap” year shaped my course in college and in life. If I were 18 again, and ready to embark on a journey to see the world, I would endeavor to take a Global Citizen Year rather than a traditional or solo “gap” year.
How does going on a gap year with Global Citizen Year prepare young people for college?
Esther: I focus on program quality and impact, so I’m excited to geek out about how a Global Citizen Year prepares young people for college and the world. Here’s the challenge:
- 1/3 of college freshmen don’t return for a second year and only 50% graduate in 6 years.
- 22% of Americans have a passport and only 9% speak a second language.
- 90% of employers believe that colleges are not fully preparing students for our global economy.
- 99% of our Fellows are enrolled in college and on track to graduate on time.
- 96% of our Fellows come out of their year fluent in a critical language.
- 97% believe the global skills they developed during their Global Citizen Year have helped them succeed academically, professionally, and/or personally.
- 99% state Global Citizen Year changed how they see their role in the world.
What is one common misconception about taking a gap year?
Esther: It’s not a year off, it’s a year ON. Many people think a gap year is a privilege for wealthy kids. Others think a gap year program is a remedial option for kids who are "off-track". Our mission is to reframe the traditional gap year as a Bridge Year. With Global Citizen Year you aren't falling into a 'gap'; instead you are crossing the bridge that will launch you from one life stage to the next. Let's stop calling it a gap year; and start calling it a bridge year.
With Global Citizen Year you aren't falling into a 'gap'; instead you are crossing the bridge that will launch you from one life stage to the next. Let's stop calling it a gap year; and start calling it a bridge year.